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Minister refuses to rule out Medicare Levy increase

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Media Release Dr Bob Woods



The Government looks set to break y e t another of its election promises with today's refusal by Federal Minister Brian Howe to rule out an increase in the Medicare Levy, Federal Shadow Minister for Health Dr Bob Woods said today.

Reported on ABC radio Canberra, admitting that extra money for the health budget would have to come from somewhere and questioned about a possible increase in the Medicare Levy in the August Budget, Minister Howe said he " can’t rule it out

" An increase in the Medicare Levy would be a blatant breach of the promises by former Prime Minister Hawke and former health Minister Blewett who both indicated that during this term of Government the Levy would not be increased " said Dr Woods.

" An increase in the Medicare Levy would also represent yet another in a long line of policy somersaults from Brian Ilowe. Less than 12 months ago, in justifying his proposed $3.50 Medicare co-payment, the Minister rejected an increase in the Medicare Levy on the grounds th a t" ...The fact is that it is neither equitable nor efficient to pump more money into a system which is oversupplied with practitioners and delivering unnecessary services... That is just crazy economics". ·

Former Prime Minister Hawke admitted low income people would be worse off with an increase In the Levy than they would with a Medicare co-payment.

Brian Howe knows that an increase in the Levy will not reduce unnecessary ovcrscrvicing and overusage encouraged by bulk billing nor will it reduce the increasing burden on the public hospital system and the under utilisation of the private hospital system.

This could be easily remedied if the Government followed the Coalition policy example and encouraged patients into the private hospital system by the use of financial subsidies for private health insurance. Unlike the Government the Coalition will not change its position on the Medicare Levy. Our policy is clear. The Medicare Levy will

remain at 1.25 per cent of taxable income and will not be increased.

Brian Howe is obviously a desperate man and today's comments indicate he is again clutching at straws. The question is, how much longer will the Australian public bo expected to sacrifice the quality of their health care because of the Minister's incompetence and inaction?"

23rd July 1992 COMMONWEALTH


For further information contact Dr Wood* or L*i»a O'Connor on 02 746 8200. After hour* contact Dr Wood* 02 744 1872 or Lei** O'Coimor 02 797 6238.